And there were lights|
Disclaimer: The Lord of the Rings and other stories of Middle-earth belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. This story is not made for profit.
Note: The author acknowledges that this story owes much to “The Visited Planet”, a short story by J.B. Phillips.
The white, shining
figure bowed as the lady entered the chamber. He was Olorin, the
wisest among the Maiar, who was also known as Gandalf or Mithrandir
in Middle-earth, where he dwelt for a while. “Hail Varda, Queen
of the Stars.”
“Olorin.” The lady
replied softly. She was Varda, one of the greatest of the Valar,
whom the peoples of Middle-earth called Elbereth. An even brighter
light emanated from her.
“You summoned me,
lady. Is there aught I might do for you?”
“Follow me,” answered
Varda. “There is something I would like to show you.”
And so they went up
to the highest part of Ilmarin, and further up, ascending a path that
only the Valar knew, until they came to a place where they could see
the splendours and glories of the stars. Olorin could see Arien
as she steered her vessel, which is called the Sun in Middle-earth.
She smiled and bowed as she recognized Varda’s presence.
There near the Sun
was a small sphere: Arda that had been made round. From where
Olorin stood, it looked like a blue ball, for it was covered mostly
by the Sea. Dark and dull it appeared, as it stood side by side
with the brilliant stars. But Varda regarded it with fondness
and reverence, for there dwelt the Children of Iluvatar.
“My lady,” said
Olorin, “to what do I owe this honour? For this path was not known
to me, and never before I came this close to your hallowed stars.”
“One has the right
to see the fruit of one’s labours,” said Varda. “Do you
not wish to see what happened while you were not here?”
“To see what happened
here while I was in Middle-earth?” Olorin was not sure he understood
the Queen’s meaning.
“To see what happened
in Middle-earth while you were there.”
“Pardon me, my lady,
but have I not seen that? I was there and I saw.”
“Ah,” said Varda,
”but you did not see as we here saw.”
Olorin’s eyes brightened
as understanding dawned on him. “Show me what you will, my lady.”
Varda raised her white
arm gracefully, as a music master does when he conducts his lyrists
and harpists. In one accord the stars dim their lights slightly,
so that Middle-earth appeared more clearly to Olorin.
“I am showing you
Middle-earth as it was in the later part of the Third Age, at the beginning
of the rise of Sauron,” Varda declared.
The small sphere was
suddenly covered in a black mist. The Sun and Moon circled it
few times, and the mist thickened with every circle. But there
were spots of light on the earth, some small spots and some larger.
These lights were different in colour and intensity. There was
a bright, white light shining like a diamond. Close to it there
was another bright spot, red like a glowing fire.
“Nenya,” said Olorin.
“And Narya. You bore your light well, Olorin. In many
hearts you have kindled hope amidst the growing darkness.”
They saw also a blue
light, brighter than the two others. No doubt it was Vilya, sparkling
like a great sapphire stone. But these three were not the only
source of light. Somewhere between the blue and the white lights
the land was covered in shimmering green. It was dimmer than the
light that came from the Three Rings, but it covered a larger place.
And it grew steadily brighter as the Sun and Moon repeated their course.
Olorin. “Thranduil has kept it free from evil.”
“Nay, not Mirkwood,”
said Varda,” it was never Mirkwood to us. It has ever been Greenwood
the Great. Their light never vanished though the darkness crept
ever closer to them.”
In another part of
the sphere there was a gleam of white. There were also grey and
brown lights scattered in several other parts.
“That part shining
in white, is it Gondor?” asked Olorin.
“Gondor it is, under
the protection of the faithful Stewards,” said Varda. “And
the other ones, grey as stones and brown as the earth, they emanate
from the realm of the children of Aule.”
Olorin smiled as he
remembered fondly his friends the Dwarves. “Strong and faithful
folks they are: never have they yielded to the Lord of the Rings.”
Presently Varda raised
her arm again, and it seemed to Olorin that the Sun and Moon sailed
much more swiftly for many circles, before they resumed their usual
“Now we are approaching
the end of the Third Age,” Varda said.
There was another great
light very close to the glow of Vilya. This light was silver and
it grew slowly but steadily brighter. Again Olorin smiled, as
another fond memory came to him. “Aragorn,” he whispered.
“Aragorn son of Arathorn, Estel, the Hope of his people.”
Even as they spoke
the Sun and Moon circled few times and behold! Near the white and the
silver light there was a small but very bright light, even brighter
than Vilya or Estel. Shades of yellow and bright green shone there,
and this light moved as if it was in a vigorous dance.
Olorin looked at this
new light with wonder and amusement. “What is that, my lady?
From the colour and the movement I would say it has something to do
with the merry Hobbits of the Shire.”
Varda smiled. “You
guess correctly, for that is Bilbo Baggins finding the One Ring.
The hobbit had kept it for long, but no dominion it ever had over him.”
“I have a great opinion
of Bilbo,” said Olorin, “but never did I think his light shall surpass
that of Vilya or Aragorn!”
“It is not his power
that created the light,” countered Varda. “That light is a
sign to us that something great is happening. As for it being
brighter than even Vilya, you yourself said rightly to Frodo: for the
Power who decided that Bilbo should find the Ring and that Frodo should
destroy it is far greater than the power of any ring makers.”
At these words the Queen of the Stars bowed her radiant head.
“Blessed be the One,” she chanted solemnly.
Olorin followed her
gesture. “Blessed be the One”, he repeated.
Now they saw the darkness
deepened in Middle-earth. All the lights were almost invisible.
The darkness surrounded them like a vulture holds its prey in its claws.
After a while, Middle-earth was in utter darkness.
But the small, green-and-yellow
light still glowed. Then in a sudden, it grew so bright and spread
so large. It grew brighter and brighter, and finally it exploded
and its sparks covered the whole sphere. As it exploded the black
mist vanished. For a while Middle-earth was entirely enclosed
in a terrible radiance. Olorin suddenly realized that all the
stars tilted as this great event was recounted, as noble lords bow when
acknowledging a king.
Olorin remained silent
for a while. Finally he spoke softly, “Such small hands performed
such great deeds.”
“We stood still watching
when Frodo and Samwise destroyed the One Ring,” said Varda.
“Such a great light we have never seen from Middle-earth, save when
Melkor was overthrown.”
The black mist and
the radiant light were now gone, and so were the light of the Three
Elven Rings. But in many places other lights in various shades
and hues emerged, like flowers that sprout in springtime. Some
flickered and died, but most of them glowed steadily. Bright light
shone in Greenwood; a beautiful mixture of silver, white and blue shone
in Gondor; and the grey and brown lights of the Dwarves grew stronger.
There were still small black shadows scattered here and there, but the
lights were stronger.
They stood there in
silent for a while, the Queen of the Valar and the wise Maia, staring
at the lands, seas, and peoples they both loved.
Then Varda raised her
arm for the third time, and the stars resumed their splendour.
Arda appeared again as the dull sphere that Olorin saw when they first
came to this place.
He turned to Varda
and bowed. “This is a mighty gift, my lady, one I am honoured